In an ideal scenario, parents support a child physically, emotionally, and financially. Unfortunately, there are cases when this simply is not possible. One parent may be incapable of meeting their responsibilities now — and show no sign of being able to do so in the future. In these cases, parental rights in Colorado can be terminated.
There have been cases where individuals have voluntarily signed over their rights as parents in Colorado, and where individuals have petitioned the courts to have the rights of another parent terminated. One of the most common questions that parents have when faced with this matter is whether or not child support stops with the termination of rights. The short answer is yes, but the issue can be more complex than many people realize.
To be clear, signing over parental rights isn’t something that is taken lightly or done easily. You will need to present a strong case to the court both as a plaintiff or a defendant.
What is Termination of Parental Rights?
When parental rights are terminated, the parent loses all of the privileges and responsibilities they previously had. As a result, the child may be adopted, placed into custody of a third party or the other parent. The other parent no longer has visitation rights, the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child, etc. In some cases, parental rights can be restored, but termination should be seen as a permanent decision.
It’s also important to remember that a parent may lose their rights to visitation, to sole physical custody of the child, have custody temporarily removed, or be subject to other court actions that impact their access and rights to their child. This is not the same as termination of parental rights. These parents still retain some rights and must meet their support obligations.
Parental Rights and Child Support
Colorado laws regarding parental rights and responsibilities are largely based on two concepts. The first is that the courts should act in the best interest of the child. The second is that with very few exceptions, parents are responsible for the care of the children they have. The courts will not act to terminate rights or accept a petition to terminate rights unless there is no other option. They will certainly not do so if they believe termination is being sought to absolve one parent of their child support obligations.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
Because the state takes the rights and responsibilities seriously, they don’t generally allow parents to relinquish their rights. However, they will consider this measure in cases where a parent’s behavior has significantly endangered the child.
Termination of parental rights will also be considered in stepparent adoption cases. In this instance, both biological parents must sign over their rights to the stepparent. When this happens, the parent losing their rights is no longer obligated to pay child support.
If you are involved in a case concerning your parental rights termination, or the rights of your child’s other parent, you need legal help. A qualified Family Law attorney can assist you with your case, and provide you with alternatives to this extreme and permanent resolution.